One of the joys of blogging is that you get to experience sectors of the Christian world that you might otherwise miss. Even if you’ve been walking with Jesus for years — or in some cases, like mine, decades — there is always something new to learn.
Several weeks ago I linked to the YouTube postings of a BBC documentary on 13-year-old Deborah Drapper. Her story is a mixture of elements: A somewhat isolated, innocent, homeschooled girl in rural England who somehow has no fear when it comes to wading into a group of partying teens on a Friday night to ask them some serious faith questions. Her style is forceful and direct; a style gained from listening nightly to podcasts from Ray Comfort’s Way of the Master website.
So when I learned this week that Deborah had a blog, I took a few minutes to scan it, and in that short time a phrase somewhat jumped out at me several times:
The Law and the Gospel
Having seen the entire BBC show helped here, and if you haven’t you’re at somewhat of a disadvantage, but Ms. Drapper’s style begins — always — with the Ten Commandments as an example of how peoples’ beliefs that they are “good” can never possibly line up with God’s “Big Ten.”
That’s a fair approach. I’ve heard Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley do the same, and I was on the same track a few weeks ago when I preached in a Toronto church on the story of the rich young official (or rich young aristocrat, or rich young bureaucrat, or rich young ruler.) He felt he had kept all ten commandments, but then Jesus helps him to see the impossibility of human righteousness — “there is none good but God.”
But watching Deborah, I got a slightly different vibe. I’m not sure if it was just a reaction to her formulaic approach — she is only 13, after all — but I think it was her total reliance on the “big ten” as the basis for her verbal witness. The British Teens she spoke with would wake up the next morning remembering the message of the Ten Commandments, and not the grace of God in sending Jesus, or the ability of Jesus to meet us at our point of need.
(As an aside, this is why we don’t hire high school students where I work. There are too many complex “life issues” that people are facing that younger people haven’t necessarily dealt with.)
Unsure what vibe I was sensing, I was finally able to articulate it when I saw the phrase “The Law and the Gospel,” or “The Ten Commandments, The Law and the Gospel” so clearly printed on her blog. The nuances of adding “The Law” so distinctly to the presentation are not part of my previous experience. (Google the phrase for examples of other places where it’s used online.)
Again, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to quench everything that God is doing through Deborah. And I’m not here to debate the effectiveness of The Way of the Master, or even The Four Spiritual Laws, or even apologetics in general.
The only point I want to make today — and ask your response to it — is that there seemed to be something awkward about going out for an evening of evangelism with the premise that you’re going to share “The Law” with people; and I say that recognizing that “The Gospel” is only good news in light of the condemnation that the law puts everyone under. There seemed to be something definitely not postmodern about it. Read the first page currently up on her blog, and tell me if I’m over-reacting.
Visitors: You may not be here by accident! If you got here from a WordPress or search tag and you’re not a Christ-follower, please understand that in critiquing the approach I’m not minimizing the message or its urgency. All of us are constantly looking for ways to help the broader population confront the eternal questions that need to be faced. At the end of the day, Deborah, Ray Comfort and I would have you reach the same conclusion, namely that Jesus’ claim to be God was true, and therefore his message needs to be clearly heard and individually applied. God is a righteous judge, but also rich in grace, mercy and compassion. To hear a presentation like Deborah’s, continue to this site.